Is the FPM, LF honeymoon over ?
Written by Malek   

aoun geagea 100

by YaLibnan.com

Free Patriotic Movement criticized the Lebanese Forces over its latest proposal for privatizing the electricity sector during the cabinet meeting that was supposed to discuss the budget at the Grand Serail. Ever since Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea endorsed FPM founder Michel Aoun’s presidential candidacy the relations between the 2 parties ran very smoothly

But on Wednesday Energy Minister Cesar Abi Khalil who represents president Aoun in the cabinet criticized LF for its proposal. Geagea has recently proposed that private companies should build and operate power plants in a partnership with the state in the electricity sector, describing it as a necessary reform that should be included in the state budget. Education Minister Marwan Hamadeh of the Progressive Socialist Party voiced support for the LF’s proposal in this regard, but Justice Minister Salim Jreissati who also represents Aoun in the cabinet rejected linking the state budget to the electricity plan stressing they are “two separate things.” Abi Khalil meanwhile told reporters sarcastically that he is “preparing a health plan,” in an apparent jab at the LF, which holds the health portfolio in the government. Flanked by Abi Khalil after the session, Health Minister Ghassan Hasbani tried to play down the differences with FPM by saying : “We’re both in good health and we always cooperate.”


According to Geagea, such a step would provide a 24/24 power supply across the country and would spare the treasury around $2 billion in yearly subsidies. But FPM chief and Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil was not sold on the idea stressing that such a plan would require five years of preparations. He did not elaborate on how he came up with this conclusion, but it was obvious the FPM, LF honeymoon may be over.

Describing the absence of the ministers as a “coincidence,” Social Affairs Minister Pierre Bou Assi said there are “positive intentions” towards approving the budget and the stalled new wage scale.

“There is no need for rush in approving the state budget, because it requires elaborate discussions,” the minister added.

Industry Minister Hussein al-Hajj Hassan of Hizbullah meanwhile reiterated his party’s rejection of any new taxes on low-income citizens.

“We are convinced of the budget’s taxing measures and we have dropped the taxes that harm the people,” Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said after the session.

Information Minister Melhem Riachi announced that discussions have reached Article 82 of the 90-article draft state budget and that he expects the Cabinet to finish its deliberations on Friday, describing the atmosphere as positive.

As for the issue of privatizing the electricity sector, Education Minister Marwan Hamadeh of the Progressive Socialist Party voiced support for the LF’s proposal in this regard, as pro-president Justice Minister Salim Jreissati said the state budget and the electricity plan are “two separate things.”

Energy Minister Abi Khalil meanwhile told reporters sarcastically that he is “preparing a health plan,” in an apparent jab at the LF, which holds the health portfolio in the government.

Flanked by Abi Khalil after the session, Health Minister Ghassan Hasbani said: “We’re both in good health and we always cooperate.”

LF leader Samir Geagea has recently proposed that private companies build and operate power plants in a partnership with the state in the electricity sector, describing it as a necessary reform that should be included in the state budget.